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Group Calls For Stricter Standards For Developers Receiving Tax Incentives In Houston

The city says tax incentives have helped create thousands of jobs and improved infrastructure in Houston.

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Demonstrators hold signs denouncing wealthy businessmen who don't pay high wages
Activists with the Texas Organizing Project and other groups rally against tax incentives for some developers in Houston.

The Texas Organizing Project, or TOP, advocates for low-income residents. The group recently went on a bus tour to some of Houston's developments it says should not have gotten a tax incentive, because they didn't create quality jobs.

One of the stops was the Westin Houston Downtown, owned by Landry's.

Another was a site in the Heights, just south of Interstate-10, where a Walmart was built.

Laura Perez-Boston with TOP says neither company is known for offering well-paying jobs.

"What we want to see is that our next mayor can really make good jobs a priority for our neighborhoods," she says.

The city declined to make anyone available for an interview. In a statement, a spokesperson says tax incentives have helped create thousands of jobs and improved infrastructure in Houston.

James Thurmond, who heads the graduate program for public administration at the University of Houston, says it's a difficult decision for cities as they try to get developers into certain areas.

"You know, you're condemned if you cut the deal and then people criticize it, but if you don't cut the deal and it gets away, then they criticize you too," Thurmond says. "But you got to make the best call you can for what do you think is good for your community, what do you think is going to work out the best."

TOP says developers shouldn't get taxpayers money unless they create jobs that pay livable wages.

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